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Hundreds of children leaving Madison Co. for mental health care

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 9:59 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The need for more mental health resources is at the forefront of minds around the country and right here in our own backyard.

This year, hundreds of children have had to leave Madison County for emergency mental health treatment services.

Enough in-patient care is where the problem lies for leaders with the North Alabama Mental Health Coalition.

No beds for children in a mental health crisis in Madison County; that’s what North Alabama Mental Health Coalition Chairman Mac Yates says is the reality.

“Trying to say that you can treat everyone on an outpatient basis is totally unreal,” Yates said.

Yates says it’s not just due to lack of space, that the critical concern is lack of psychiatrists.

“There are some things we are addressing right now that may help that situation,” Yates said.

Lack of professional staff means children are being sent outside Madison County for care.

Yates says according to HEMSI, in the first 90 days of 2021, hundreds of children had to leave the area for health care.

“250 children or pediatric patients had to be transported out of Huntsville to find a bed. 165 of those went to Decatur West. 85 had to be sent otherwise,” he said.

Which in turn, causes a further space issue for other hospitals.

The family of Aaron Brown, a 19-year-old who police say confessed to stabbing his grandma to death, said he was supposed to be getting treatment. Adding that there was no room for him at Decatur West.

They showed us a court order from a judge, which stated Aaron Brown should be in a mental health facility.

Two weeks later, he allegedly killed his grandmother.

“She would be here if they would have picked him up on that order that was signed by the judge or they would have kept him in the hospital when they first got out of jail and the doctor released him and said he didn’t need to be in a mental facility,” Melissa Hummer, Aaron Brown’s aunt said.

Yates says anyone struggling with mental health, or is close with someone who is, is welcome to join his group.

“We would encourage them to come to the meetings and be part of the solution. The people that come up with the solutions are not just two or three people. They’re people who have experienced it, people who have stake in it, People who want to do something about it,” he said.

Aaron Brown’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

It was initially last Friday, but according to court documents, it was postponed due to Brown’s mental state.

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